A new, unauthorized biography of Anthony Bourdain tragically reveals the food journalist’s final days leading up to his suicide. Bourdain was found hanging in his hotel room in France on June 8, 2018, the day after shooting an episode of his CNN series Parts Unknown. Texts reveal that he stated he was unhappy with his life and heartbroken over seeing his then-girlfriend dancing with another man.
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Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain by Charles Leerhsen hasn’t officially been released — it’s available for preorder — but snippets have been published by The New York Times. The biography details Bourdain’s life from a young age, including love relationships, his family life, and struggles with substance abuse. It also includes texts from the late celebrity and portrays a man who was struggling with heartbreak and severe depression right before his death.
Journalist Charles Leerhsen conducted over 80 interviews and obtained numerous electronic communications from Bourdain’s estate, which is controlled by his ex-wife, Ottavia Busia-Bourdain. Communications (which include emails and texts) between Bourdain and his ex-wife, as well as him and his ex-girlfriend, Asia Argento, give insight into his tragic final days.
The unreleased book has already ruffled feathers, with numerous Bourdain family members calling it defamatory and requesting corrections. However, the publisher, Simon & Schuster, disagrees with this sentiment and intends on going forth with publication on October 11.
Anthony Bourdain’s Interactions With Ex-wife, Ottavia Busia-Bourdain, Caused His Girlfriend Distress
“I hate my fans, too. I hate being famous. I hate my job,” Anthony Bourdain wrote to his ex-wife. “I am lonely and living in constant uncertainty.”
Although they were divorced, Bourdain and Ottavia Busia-Bourdain remained friends and confidantes. According to the biography, the two were in continuous communication with each other. Their relationship, although platonic, allegedly was a point of contention for Asia Argento.
One text exchange shows how Asia’s reactions to Bourdain and his ex-wife were contributing to multi-sided triangulation. It came after Bourdain asked his ex-wife not to post family photos on Father’s Day.
“You didn’t want me to put a pic that had you in it because Asia would freak out and I have the feeling that will not change anytime soon,” wrote Busia-Bourdain. “I’m tired of pretending I don’t know you. Or that we are never in the same place.”
Bourdain responded, “I feel you. But I was being honest. The pap [arazzi] situation is horrendous. Since I left you guys, though, she’s freaking out.”
The Times reports that Asia Argento would become increasingly upset when she saw photos of her boyfriend with his family online. She would allegedly scrutinize social media posts, which seemed to then contribute to a rift in their relationship.
Bourdain Was Heartbroken After Seeing Asia Argento With Another Man
Argento was spotted dancing with French reporter Hugo Clément at Ristorante Camponeschi, a spot that she often frequented with Bourdain. The steamy moment was caught on camera by paparazzo Rino Barillari.
Leerhsen’s biography claims that Bourdain proceeded to search Argento’s name “hundreds of times” over a few days after seeing the photos. Texts between Bourdain and Argento reveal that he seemed tormented by what he saw, or at the very least was struggling with his feelings.
“I am okay,” Bourdain texted. “I am not spiteful. I am not jealous that you have been with another man. I do not own you. You are free. As I said. As I promised. As I truly meant. But you were careless. You were reckless with my heart. My life.”
Argento allegedly responded that she couldn’t deal with his possessiveness, and then ended their relationship. This all occurred the day before he hanged himself.
Barillari told La Verità that the two had caught everyone’s attention. “Everyone looked at them,” he said. “She looked like a possessed doll . . . a scene of crazy sensuality.”
Page Six reports that Barillari later expressed sincere regret at taking the photos and selling them to an Italian magazine, Chi. He never meant for the photos to potentially lead to suicide if they did.
“If I had known, I would have stopped,” Barillari admitted to La Verità. “A picture is not worth a life. If that shot triggered suicide . . . this would make me suffer.”
Rose McGowan Defended Asia Argento in Wake of His Suicide
Asia Argento’s friend and fellow Harvey Weinstein accuser, Rose McGowan, made a public statement in the wake of Bourdain’s death. Many were accusing Argento of causing his suicide. McGowan claims to have written the statement in Argento’s presence before giving it to The Hollywood Reporter for publication.
The piece was titled: “An Important Message From Rose McGowan, a Friend: We need to have a conversation about suicide. Blame is not that conversation.” It claimed that Bourdain had always been open about his “demons,” and that he once told a mutual friend that “He’s never met anyone who wanted to die more than him.” McGowan emphasized that he had struggled with depression for a long time, and that his suicide was not Argento’s fault.
The open letter also claimed that Bourdain and Argento were in an open relationship, thus dismissing the idea that she could have cheated on him.
McGowan wrote that they “loved without borders of traditional relationships, and they established the parameters of their relationship early on. Asia is a free bird, and so was Anthony.”
Bourdain Found Hanging by Fellow Chef Eric Ripert
In his final days, Bourdain was staying at the boutique hotel Le Chambard in Kaysersberg to shoot his show Parts Unknown on CNN. Parts Unknown was a travel food show that featured down-to-earth food hubs and uniquely human interactions. Chef Eric Ripert, Bourdain’s friend who appeared on the TV show, had spent time with Bourdain both on and off the set.
The two reportedly went out for a meal and late-night beers with chef Jean-Yves Schillinger two nights before Bourdain’s suicide. Although Schillinger alleged that Bourdain seemed normal, Ripert could tell that something was off. This was in the midst of Bourdain’s upset over Argento.
That night, Ripert allegedly put his ear to the wall in between his and Bourdain’s hotel rooms because he was worried about him. He could hear him snoring. The following day, Bourdain awoke and once again exchanged texts with Argento.
“Is there anything I can do?” he asked her.
“Stop busting my balls,” she responded.
Bourdain texted, “OK,” and then hung himself that night.
After Bourdain never showed up for dinner, and then was absent for breakfast the following morning, Ripert went to find him. Ripert found Bourdain in his hotel room, hanging.
If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.